Thursday, January 31, 2008

Life's most embarrassing moments?

I'm into a mad dash to finish up my speech and present it on Sunday to some wonderful neighbors of mine.
Thank goodness I started two weeks ahead of time for doing this speech. I started recording in front of my flip video. Oh boy oh boy did I ever stink the first try. I'm putting in a tiny clip of the very first try. Go ahead and laugh! I did!
It was so awful I was so embarrassed...but this is how a person least that is how I am learning.

One interesting detail to note though. If I go from my basic key outline and do a little ad lib it goes much much smoother.

I promise not to publish my speech here...yawn...!!!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Thanks Dad...

I just had this roll of film developed. Yes 'film'. It was too cold last weekend to take my digital camera [the larger one] out to take photos of the woods. I had to depend on my brains and what my dad had taught me about exposures and reflections of snow. I had one shot that did not come out the way I wanted it too. Not bad for an old Pentax K1000. Someone on Flickr commented that the Pentax K1000 was the 'tank' of film cameras.
I also need to thank dad for instilling creativity in me.
This week I have to do a speech for school. We had to post the titles for our speeches on the discussion board.
Our teacher had suggested we use a hobby or a passion of ours to 'do the speech' with. And I picked photography. My Title is: Take Your Best Shot.

My fellow classmates are posting things like~ Blood Pressure and You
Creative thinking and writing came from Dad. It will help me get through my presentation. Not only that, I had to round up 5 adults to use as an audience. They will be scanned into my video of my speech. When I called up some neighbors to inquire if they would help me out...they found out the topic and said yes, of course they would come!

So I have two very good reasons to thank my dad. His passion for photography has passed on, and his creative flair is helping me!
Love you dad.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Play Time

Last weekend it was severely cold utterly cold that they advised people NOT to go out, not to drive, but to stay home. If you were to go out, the weather service advised that people actually wear of all things: a hat and gloves.
Well, I did go outside. I wore hat, mittens--doub
le mittens [ones made by my Grandma Lind!], a scarf, coveralls, and a windbreaker over the coveralls.
I had tried a face mask but all it did was take my breath and freeze the moisture on my glasses.

However, I recalled an old trick from a runner's magazine published years ago, that advised putting vaseline on your face to prevent windburn. Ick. But it does help. And your face doesn't feel like raw meat after the outside trek.

Of course I ended up in the creek bottom, but this time I had 'film' in the camera, not like the day before. I am so pleased with my film photos. Tickled beyond believe when I looked at them. I'd used an old Pentax K1000 manual camera with a 8--200mm lens and did all the manual exposures and compensations for the snow and the sunlight!
I was truly fascinated by the sparkles in the snow. This weekend is supposed to be much warmer, so I'm going to get back out and take Mr. Morris for some exercise.
Recess has begun!
Below are the way our young mules deal with the cold weather!
Enjoy! Oh ... there is music added to the video...haha!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Toy!

I probably shouldn't have gotten it...but I couldn't resist! A new toy for me...
It is called the Flip Video Camera. A pocket sized video camera ... low end videos not super high quality stuff.
But, it is easy to send a video via email or upload to YouTube for sharing. It is a handy little thing that is easy to turn on and off with no more than a flick of the thumb.

I'm going to add a little bit of footage I took today so you all can appreciate the snow and cold we are experiencing...
Oh it was -25 degrees here this morning. When I took this footage, it was still subzero, but by now we are used to it so it doesn't feel so bad.
Enjoy our little bit of Wisconsin!
Moving hay:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My Lover...

I'm supposed to do an informative speech for my next task in my Speech Class. A week or so ago I posted my Introductory Speech--Speech! Speech!-- I am happy to say that I got 100% on it! I take that as a good sign.

Our instructions are to use an attention grabbing statement. I'll give you my attention grabber and see if you like it...

"I have a lover, she can make me forget time. She can cause me to get lost with her, she makes me a worshiper of weather, nature, the sky, and the woods. She can make me go out in rainstorms and snowstorms—she can amaze me and she humbles me.

‘She’ is a camera."

This is just the rough draft to my opening statement. But I look at it, and it really is true. My thinking is...this oughta grab 'em!

Below is my road as I came home tonight....

Monday, January 21, 2008

Snow? Snow?

We are in Wisconsin, we are supposed to love winters and enjoy snow! Well actually I do. I do love snowstorms. I do love snowfalls, but I like to play in it and not drive in it.
Okay let me rephrase. I don't mind the driving part except when it looks like this:

Then it gets hairy. Road? What road. Yes I know there is one there somewhere. I did drive the big old gas hog 454 4 wheel drive pickup today which is some comfort on these backroads from 'hades'.
Would I move to town for better ease of travel?
Are you nuts?

Heck no!

After all, when I got home from work I was able to appreciate the quiet beauty of the snow falling gently.
And promptly set into doing my homework after taking a few pictures!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

How not to Photograph!

The air temperature is -1 degree. There is a small breeze blowing that chills your cheeks. You know it is cold! More than likely it is too cold for a digital camera to handle. Meaning--when you bring it in it will get wet from the moisture!
Trick to use: Before you go inside, drop your camera, film or digital into a zip lock bag. The moisture will accumulate on the inside of the bag...let the camera sit until it reaches room temp.

Okay with that said, I bundled up and took Morris with me on a hike down to the creek with a promise to hubby that I wouldn't stay out too long! I got engrossed in using my Pentax K1000, figuring aperatures, fstops, trying a polarizing filter...
I was so proud of myself for finding and taking some awesome photos!
Especially when the great big buck came running past followed by a doe and another buck....Wow was I good! I got them!

I was tickled with my accomplishments, but noticed that poor Morris was trying to stand on 'no' feet. He was shaking and shivering. So I headed back just as smug as all get out.
Until I got to shot 24. Well if you've ever used a film camera...that is where the film is supposed to not advance any further...

Today when I go back out, I'm taking film.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cold weather fun...

Yes it is cold here! Very very cold. But I still need to get outside and help feed our animals.
The weather service today advised people who may go outside to please wear hats and gloves...hmmmm
they forgot the coat part?
Anyway my hand is bare because I needed to punch the little thingy on the camera that said 'self portrait' and that is too hard to do with mittens on.
As I type this it has warmed all the way up to -5!
The sun is shining and the crystal sparkles in the snow are calling out to me. I may just head on down to the creek for a hike with my small digital that I can tuck inside my clothes so it stays warm.

I just love the 'squeak' of the snow when it is this cold.
Dress warm!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Snow Diamonds

The year? 1980--something. I don't actually recall. Although that is the year that I began to refer to the sparkles in snow as 'Snow Diamonds'.
It came about on a very cold winter night just outside Balsam Lake, Wisconsin. This was the year I learned who my father was.
Silly? No, I grew up with him. He was a part of my entire life. But this was the night that I met him for who and what he was. This night, this cold bitter night, we created a special bond that we'd never had before.

Dad loved cross country skiing. After he retired he picked up the sport and I was already doing it. I'd brought my skiis on this visit. In the middle of the night as planned, he woke me up. There was a full moon shining clear in the sky.
The thermometer read -15 degrees. We got our skiing clothes on and headed out. Dad had a planned route that would take us to Half Moon Lake where we would ski undisturbed by ice fisherman or people. We would glide through the night like ghosts under a full moon.
Our breaths rose in a mist as we skiied and we talked. About what exactly I don't remember. It didn't matter we were doing something we both loved dearly. We were doing something for fun and we were doing it an an outrageous time of day...
the middle of the night!
And in subzero temperatures.

We got on to Half Moon Lake and began to stroke and ski our way from one end to the other. I think Dad said to ski the whole length would only be 6 miles. Suddenly below our feet came a huge boom that echoed eerily through the night air. I recall cursing. Dad laughed.
It was the 'ice booming'. Then it groaned like it was in pain.
Dad said this was normal. I took his word for it but still winced each time the lake echoed and groaned under our skis.

About midway across the lake we stopped for a rest and leaned on our poles. This is really the only part of that night that I can recall exactly what we had said to each other.

I pointed to the glistening snow and the sparkles that were made by the bright moonlight.
*Look Dad, look at that, doesn't it look like diamonds?*
He was silent for a moment, then said, *By God you're right. Diamonds. I never thought of it like that. Good description.*
I looked at him and he smiled at me.
I said, *We've got our own Diamonds in the Snow don't we Dad?*
*Yes we do.* Was his answer.

From then on, *Snow Diamonds* was our secret little way of referring to that incredible night on Half Moon Lake.
That magical night where I made a connection with my father like no other.

Yesterday when I drove to work, the sun sparkled on the snow so brightly that I found *Snow Diamonds*.
I had to stop the care and get out and take a picture.
The frosty air and the bright reflections in the snow took me back.

Every time I see these reflections I feel whisked back to that night.
The night of the *Snow Diamonds*.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Wandering in the cold

Numb fingers, frosty breath...
A tripod in the water...
Batteries dying in the middle of a timed exposure...

It is interesting to find out how well balanced a person can be while trying to unscrew the little tripod thingy from the bottom of the camera and NOT drop the little thingy [note the technical lingo] while juggling out the dead batteries.
Ah yes, I was smart enough to bring my second set.
Dexterous enough to be able to exchange the batteries with the now very numb fingers and reset the thingy on the bottom...remount it on the tripod...and proceed!

Today it was about water...running cold water. The creek water. I love walking the creek. Every time I walk it, it has changed in some way. I had a very successful bunch of shots, but when I got home what impressed me the most was the ice.

My mind was cleared, my body at ease [and fatigued of course], and I was so happy.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Chop! Chop!

Chop, clip, snip.
The long hair fell down off the barber's chair [beautician?]. I took it upon myself to chop it all off. Well, she styled it of course and hey, it even looks nice!
I'm not one to keep a hairstyle for too very long. I've let my hair grow long several times and after about a year of long hair...
Back to short.
I went to the grocery store and you know what? It must not have looked like too drastic of a change, the check out gals didn't say anything...errrr

or maybe...
it was too awful to mention.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Speech! Speech!

For school I have to write and introductory speech. Yuck. I am supposed to introduce myself and my 'culture' to the rest of the class. I thought it would be 'fun' to post it here and see if anyone had any thoughts on it.

Here goes:

Introduction Speech

Hello my name is Valerie Ewing. I go by Val Ewing and if any of you remember the TV show called “Dallas” you will get the same amusement I do from sharing a celebrity name. I’m a person of many skills and experiences that make up who I am today. I cannot be grouped into any specific type of description. I’ve been told that I am a chameleon of sorts.

My upbringing was incredibly unique. During the school year I lived like any normal suburban child. The day school let out, we migrated to the backwoods of Wisconsin for the summer. As I child I worked on farms, foraged for food in the woods, hunted, fished, and lived without most modern day amenities. I grew up caught between a wealthy suburban culture and a poor backwoods culture.

Ten years ago I could be found speaking ‘farm talk’ while milking cows in the predawn light. I would review farm breeding charts and discuss how many pounds of milk had been produced in the past 24 hours. After a shower and an hour long drive I’d transformed myself into an Insurance Underwriter and was preparing to have lunch with the board members of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

I can definitely say that discussing farming was more to my liking than reviewing insurance costs with ‘stuffy shirts’ in a board room. I was nervous, but that was my bread and butter.

As children we were allowed to explore the woods that surrounded my grandparent’s property. We were forewarned about the ugly tempered bull that my uncle kept pastured in the very same woods. But I recall that we would walk miles in the woods and we could ride our bicycles down country roads to go to the lake. Back in suburbia, we were driven to school, as if we couldn’t survive the one mile walk to grade school.

I now live in a fairly remote area, yes we have indoor plumbing! I raise mules and donkeys as a hobby. I work in a small town for a chiropractor and have integrated into the community as a ‘native’. Through out my life so far I’ve worn many hats that have given me a diversified background. At heart though I truly am that country girl who likes to play in the woods and still watch out for that bad tempered bull that wanders my neighbor’s property.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Back To School!

Oh I feel like a kid again. But I am not getting the new shoes, new clothes, nor do I have to figure out where my locker is...
Nope back on line at Herzing College.
Today I started preparation for my 'internship'. I decided to 'wing it' and called the Human Resources person I'd interviewed with this summer at our local hospital to see if I could intern there.
I'm kind of proud of myself for sending her a beautiful Thank You card after getting a letter saying that they'd found someone else for the position. She remembered me quite well and the fellow that I'd been double teamed with did too.
So I've dropped off my papers for her to review after reminding her that my work for Vernon Memorial would be 'free' in she wouldn't be paying me. She said that 'J' was quite busy with missing people and wasn't sure he could put me somewhere.
I reminded her that I was quite adept at answering phones and had some very useful skills that could be put to use in 'missing peoples' places. She has agreed to look over what my requirements are [they are very friendly to the institution] and would call me back soon.

So I am taking a few minutes while our school website goes down--it seems to always do that during the first couple days of school, especially around 9PM. I try to do all my testing and discussions earlier or later.

Tomorrow is a day home from work. Snow is in the forecast so I may take some time to 'chill' out and hike with Mr. Morris. Then back to writing my school papers!

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Fog Curse and Strange Weather...

January has so far proven to be an interesting month for weather. Unpredictable and wild...a reminder that Ma Nature has her own agenda.
Deep and dense fog is not unusual for the month of January in our area. But as I browse the NOAA site I have noticed that the whole entire state has been enveloped in it for two days!

Schools have been called off. Yesterday afternoon there was an awful accident outside of Madison, WI. More than 100 vehicles were involved. Madison Crash.

In Kenosha and Racine today it is speculated that three tornadoes touched down. Of course I called my oldest son to see if he was okay and he was. Kenosha Tornadoes.

While here we dealt with heavy rainfalls combined with dangerous lightening and dense fog. The fear is that our ground is still frozen and we had an excess of 20" of snow that has rapidly melted with the sudden warm temps and the heavy rainfall.

Things on the home front are pretty peaceful right at the moment, so I think we are quite lucky!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Wet Feet...

I put on snowshoes thinking they'd help me from falling through the deep WET snow. Wrong. The snow clogged up and it felt like I had lead on my feet.
Carrying the snowshoes proved to be a chore as they kept getting in the way. After slip sliding down a very step hillside and spending many moments on my rear end...I made it to the creek bottom where I could hear water running.

Our January thaw had begun! I had a tripod and camera in a backpack. Filters in my pockets, and of course the .22 pistol on my belt. I was 'armed' for 'shooting' intent was to achieve a silky smooth photo of running water.
The snow posed a problem even with an overcast sky. The reflection of white from the snow and the water has perplexed me for a while.
Until I did some research and discovered that it was perfectly acceptable to 'stack' filters on the lens to 'neutralize' the light so that I could take a timed photo!

Before I left I fiddled with my FujiFinePix digital and found that I could preset it at Fstop 9 and preset the exposure to 2 seconds.
Well well.
Armed with all this I'd slogged through wet melting knee deep snow...[oh yeah and when I slipped down the hill with snow shoes...I got my feet crossed...that is when they came OFF!]...I was ready to achieve great things. Ok, try to achieve something I'd been trying to do for quite a while now.

Well I found the secret.
Stay away from lots of snow!
Stack filters.
Experiment with the length of exposures.
And get your feet wet!

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Sun Dog

This morning while driving to work I was fortunate enough to see a 'sun dog'. I re-routed my drive so that I could safely pull over and get out of the car and take a photo.
There it is...the ever present camera, my hubby says it must be a part of my body! Haha. How many times have you driven down a road or walked a path and seen something you wished you could have taken a picture of?

Well, I don't believe in missed chances. Winter skies always offer such great colors [when it isn't snowing!]
I did look up 'sun dog' under weather related items and it is said that sun dogs predict the coming of rain.
Well perhaps the weather person will be correct this weekend then! Rain is predicted along with our 'January Thaw'. This should make for some interesting hiking tomorrow as the creeks begin to fill with 'run off'.
I can't wait!!!


These two photos were taken on opposite sides of the bridge I was standing on. The golden glow in the second photo was created by the sunlight reflecting off the hillside. I turned and walked to the other side of the bridge where the water seemed cold and 'mad', it was churning over hidden rocks and not at all like the calm waters I'd seen on the opposite side.

I wanted to hike down to the edge, but I was 'supposed' to be on my way home from work and not playing around [teehee]. I try not to always take the 'same old' way home and look for new things to see.
It is all about improvement. I want to continue to take better and better shots. I guess practice is the only way to achieve that...and I surely have missed all the opportunities lately of getting out in the woods and hiking.

School starts up again very soon. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Fighting Boredom and Grey Skies

This morning I heard some Hawaiian music on the radio for some advertisement. Oh how it struck my heart strings.

Especially since it is -5 degrees outside. I thought of sunny beaches and the sound of the surf...and how the last time I was there with my dad, it seemed like time stood still for us.

In fact I took a mental inventory of my cameras and thought how I'd pack them all--film and digital. Of course I'd have to add my notebook computer. Where would I go? Oh that is easy. I would finally make the hike to the volcanoe...I'd take night shots of the flow.

I'd finally visit the north side of the BIG Island and take that mule ride down to the beach. When I mentioned this to my oldest boy a couple of weeks ago, he and his wife said they'd go too. But thier interest lay in scuba diving. My interests lay in the photographs.

Yes, I'm working on saving for this trip. Now if I can split some housing with the kids...well that would be okay too. But Hawaii keeps nagging me back in my mind. I've gotten sidetracked with school and some other things...

Okay, so everyone has dreams. This morning in the dull grey Wisconsin morning, this was the dream I held close to me. It may be selfish, but at least it is my very own.